Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K. 503

    Description by Roger Dettmer

    Mozart completed this work on December 4, 1786, and very likely premiered it the following night in Johann Trattner's Viennese Casino. It is scored for single flute, two each of oboes, bassoons, horns, and trumpets, strings, and solo keyboard, of course.

    This last of Mozart's four C major piano concertos is a work of immense structural integrity (rather than cultivated thematic charm), employing alternations between parallel major and minor keys throughout. It is furthermore a work whose three movements use sonata-form: pristinely so in the first; without a development section in the second, and as part of a seven-part rondo format in the last (i.e., the development of materials introduced during the first refrain in couplets B and C). Concerto No. 25 and the "Prague" Symphony (D major, K. 504) were composed conjunctively -- Mozart wrote December 4 and 6, 1786, as their completion dates in his Verzeichnis -- for a series of four Advent Akademien in the Casino of his friend Johann Trattner. Evidence suggests that he repeated the concerto on several subsequent occasions, and that Beethoven chose it in 1795 for one of his first Viennese appearances as soloist.

    "Magisterial" befits the main thrust of the opening Allegro maestoso, the longest movement in Mozart's orchestral canon: 432 measures without cadenza (which surely would have extended it). The outset of his double exposition is built on a C major triad, although subsequent materials and their treatment contain passages of expressive intimacy, not to be confused with softness or effeminacy. As if by Schubert, the music slips in and out of minor keys (always the opposite of prevailing major-keys). The music recalls pensive moments from Figaro when it is not being assertively symphonic -- as if Mozart were getting ready for the "Jupiter" Symphony of 1788.

    For the middle movement, a generic Andante tempo marking belies the depth and variety of fantasy in this F major sonatina in triple time. Again, the orchestra plays an exposition with two theme groups before the piano enters, a highly decorated part that doesn't need further embroidery. The prevailing mood is pensive without solemnity; Mozart was too professional by this time to be caught out.

    While the manuscript had no tempo marking for the final C major sonata-rondo in 6/8 time, Allegretto has been the consensus ever since Mozart's widow published K. 503 in 1789 (her only venture into business and a failure). The refrain-theme begins with eight measures of gavotte from the ballet music in Idomeneo -- the opera seria Mozart composed six years earlier, at Munich. Although Erik Smith considers this movement "festive," Cuthbert Girdlestone ranks it among the "most serious-minded rondos, [having] nothing of the merry tone of the usual rondo." The first theme is "tinted with melancholy, serious, almost brooding...full of a languishing grace unexpected in a concerto finale." Major-minor mood swings carry over from the first movement until, in couplet-B, "intensity reaches passion." It is "an epiphany" for Michael Steinberg when "the piano, accompanied by cellos and basses alone, a sound that occurs nowhere else in Mozart, [leads to] music whose richness of texture, poignancy and passion astonish us." However, sunlight pours illuminates the final refrain.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Allegro maestoso
    2. Andante
    3. Allegretto

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2021
    Nonesuch
    7559791687
    2018
    Erato
    573807
    2018
    Warner Classics
    566675
    2018
    Warner Classics
    0190295724221
    2018
    Deutsche Grammophon / Eloquence
    2017
    Linn Records
    CKD 544
    2016
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4796277
    2016
    Sony Classical / Sony Music Distribution
    88875173752
    2016
    Decca
    B002571602
    2016
    Decca
    UCCD-1434
    2016
    Alpha
    ALPHA 243
    2016
    Warner Classics
    0190295974923
    2016
    Warner Classics
    557828
    2016
    Oberlin Music
    OC 081
    2015
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4794155
    2015
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2015
    MDG / MDG Gold
    MDG 3401900
    2015
    Decca
    002369302
    2015
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4794647
    2015
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4822418
    2014
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4791033
    2014
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2014
    Alto
    ALC 1244
    2014
    Archiv Produktion / Decca / Deutsche Grammophon
    2014
    Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    PH 14003
    2014
    RCA Red Seal
    88843006072
    2013
    Warner Classics
    2013
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099972111
    2013
    BIS
    BIS 9043
    2013
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099940434827
    2013
    ABC Classics
    4810192
    2013
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099998461
    2012
    Various Artists
    Naxos
    8501056
    2012
    MDG / Zebralution
    2012
    SFPM Recordings
    5637990979
    2012
    Sony Classical
    88765409042
    2012
    MDG
    MDG 9401737
    2012
    MDG / Zebralution
    2012
    Sony Classical
    88691912562
    2012
    Teldec
    2564662270
    2012
    Warner Classics
    662255
    2012
    Concerto / Zebralution
    2011
    Decca
    2011
    Decca
    4782604
    2011
    Denon Records
    2011
    Documents
    233079
    2011
    Membran
    232750
    2011
    Decca
    4782695
    2011
    Decca
    478 269-5
    2011
    Haenssler / Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    HAEN 94603
    2011
    Piano Classics
    PLC0008
    2011
    Erato / Virgin Classics
    5099964196
    2011
    BIS
    BISSACD 1894
    2011
    EMI Classics
    2011
    Denon Records
    2011
    Brilliant Classics
    94095
    2011
    EtCetera Records
    KTC1424
    2010
    Orfeo
    C823104L
    2010
    EMI Classics
    6483382
    2010
    Decca
    2010
    Appian Publications / APR (Appian)
    5640
    2010
    Decca
    2010
    Decca
    14538
    2010
    Decca
    2010
    Bridge
    9328
    2010
    APR (Appian)
    7303
    2010
    Berlin Classics
    0300035
    2009
    Denon Records
    00795041942166
    2009
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4662662
    2009
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2009
    Denon Records
    2009
    Fab Four
    232849
    2008
    EMI Classics
    229232
    2008
    Pro Musica Camerata
    41519
    2008
    Canal Grande
    8016
    2008
    Various Artists
    Berlin Classics
    0184452BC
    2008
    Corona Records
    0002462CCC
    2008
    Avie
    2175
    2008
    Corona Classic Collection
    0002292CCC
    2008
    Archipel
    0398
    2008
    Various Artists
    Brilliant Classics
    93669
    2008
    Arte Nova Classics
    640160
    2008
    Avi
    8553064
    2008
    Orfeo
    774083
    2008
    Brilliant
    93761
    2008
    Philips
    4646602
    2008
    Decca
    4780108
    2008
    K&K Verlagsanstalt
    28
    2007
    Arts Archives
    43082
    2007
    Berlin Classics
    0013872
    2007
    Archipel
    0330
    2007
    EuroArts
    2055908
    2007
    Apex
    2007
    Apex
    2007
    Pro Musica Camerata
    43
    2007
    Brilliant Classics
    93288
    2007
    EMI Classics
    87894
    2007
    Arte Nova Classics
    825760
    2006
    Golden Melodram
    40078
    2006
    Sony Music Distribution
    86793
    2006
    Channel Productions
    10
    2006
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2006
    Philips
    4757306
    2006
    Artek
    24
    2006
    Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    4009
    2006
    Onyx
    ONYX 4013
    2006
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2894775214
    2006
    Sony Classical
    87230
    2006
    Brilliant
    92865
    2006
    Arte Nova Classics
    82876640162
    2006
    Philips
    2006
    Brilliant Classics
    99668
    2005
    WEA
    256462332-2
    2005
    Various Artists
    Brilliant
    92541
    2005
    Supraphon
    38092
    2005
    Archipel
    0202
    2005
    Archipel
    0324
    2005
    Erato
    2005
    Apex
    4619852
    2005
    Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler
    4011
    2005
    Warner Classics
    61919
    2005
    Capriccio Records
    71069
    2005
    Brilliant
    92540
    2004
    BIS
    1147
    2004
    Virgin Veritas
    62343
    2004
    Elatus
    2564613582
    2004
    Teldec / Warner Classics / Warner Music
    4613982
    2004
    Various Artists
    Brilliant
    92388
    2004
    Vox
    3609
    2004
    Decca
    460825
    2003
    Golden Melodram
    40066
    2003
    Testament
    1301
    2003
    Delta Distribution
    40039
    2003
    MDG
    9400967
    2003
    Decca
    475 181-2
    2003
    Various Artists
    Brilliant
    99720
    2003
    Various Artists
    Andante
    1120
    2003
    Philips
    470616
    2003
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000001602
    2002
    Elatus
    0927467402
    2002
    Deutsche Grammophon
    469510
    2001
    Vox Box
    CDX 5180
    2001
    Golden Melodram
    40048
    2001
    Testament
    1218
    2001
    Archiv Produktion
    463111
    2001
    Sony Music Distribution
    89500
    2000
    APR (Appian)
    5525
    2000
    EMI Music Distribution
    56974
    2000
    Delta Distribution
    49385
    2000
    MDG
    MDG340 0967-2
    2000
    Stradivarius
    10005
    2000
    Philips
    464800
    2000
    Teldec
    21037
    2000
    EMI Music Distribution
    66085
    2000
    RCA
    68399
    2000
    Decca
    467437
    2000
    LaserLight
    15870
    1999
    Harmonia Mundi
    1903022
    1999
    Philips
    456721
    1999
    Pearl
    0043
    1999
    Philips
    462232
    1999
    Philips
    454987
    1999
    Orfeo
    447961
    1999
    Haenssler
    98351
    1998
    Nonesuch
    7559 79454-2
    1998
    Erato / Virgin
    7243561445
    1998
    Virgin Classics
    1998
    Supraphon
    3076
    1998
    Tuxedo Music
    1046
    1998
    Philips
    456922
    1997
    Channel Productions
    2591
    1997
    London
    452958
    1997
    Deutsche Grammophon
    453 079-2GTA2
    1997
    Philips
    426077
    1997
    London
    443727
    1996
    Teldec
    194245
    1996
    Haenssler
    98955
    1995
    Kontrapunkt
    32209
    1995
    Art of Classics
    885908
    1994
    Vox
    5515
    1994
    Naxos
    550207
    1994
    Valois
    4713
    1994
    Philips
    442571
    1994
    Philips
    1994
    Naxos
    506002
    1993
    Philips
    438207
    1993
    Teldec
    75715
    1993
    Sony Music Distribution
    46441
    1992
    Sony Music Distribution
    47519
    1992
    Deutsche Grammophon
    1991
    Teldec
    72024
    1991
    Archiv Produktion
    431211
    1991
    Sony Music Distribution
    47269
    1990
    CBS Records
    42445
    1990
    Deutsche Grammophon / Universal
    1990
    Philips
    422507
    1990
    London
    425791
    1990
    CBS Records
    37267
    1990
    Deutsche Grammophon
    429001
    1989
    Philips
    422331
    1988
    CBS Records
    37762
    1987
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4194792
    1984
    Deutsche Grammophon
    431280
    Delta Distribution
    15870
    Enterprise
    297
    Foyer Records
    2037
    Sony Music Distribution
    47166
    Sony Classical Essential Classics
    47166
    Tuxedo Music
    9001
    Brilliant
    92627
    Pickwick
    11038
    Supraphon
    110271
    Channel Classics
    2591
    As Disc
    11014
    Deutsche Grammophon
    410989
    EMI Classics
    229224
    Decca
    452958
    EMI Music Distribution
    63719
    Erato
    Calig
    51016
    Classico
    2020
    London
    411810
    Erato
    45999
    Philips
    470287
    Teldec
    242743
    Brilliant
    92388/9
    Brilliant
    92626/4
    Pro-Arte Records
    3445
    Brilliant Classics
    93669/9
    Brilliant Classics
    99668/3
    Brilliant
    92541/4
    Brilliant
    99720/4
    Amado Classics
    01025
    Teldec
    EMI Music Distribution
    62825
    EMI Classics
    572930-2
    Edition HERA
    2200